Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Addisons disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

Addison's disease is caused by an insufficiency of adrenal hormones from the adrenal gland, the adrenal glands are paired glands located near the kidney.

Some of the clinical signs:

Lethargy and depression, Vomiting, Weakness, Poor appetite, Weight loss, Dehydration, Diarrhoea, Hypothermia, Shaking/trembling, Polyuria (increased urination), Polydipsia (increased drinking), Slow heart rate, Collapse and shock (may occur in later stages of condition).

Addison's is less common in the dog than Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism). It is a disease that often goes undiagnosed and is very rare in cats. A study in 1989 by Peterson and Greco, showed that only 8 cases of cats with addison's disease had been recorded. (1)

There does not seem to be any breed of dog that is more likely to suffer from addisons, and it does not seem to necessarily be a disease of the older dog, it is thought to be more likely in female dogs (Peterson and Kintzer, 1996). (2)

Diet and Addison's

1. Foods high in potassium should be avoided, although the food should contain adequate sodium and chloride levels. The diet should contain a highly digestible protein source and salt supplementation has been found to help this condition in the early stages of management.
2. Natural herbal remedies may include: dandelion, parsley and nettles which help to control the balance of steroids and aromatherpy using rosemary, ginger and lemon grass is thought to strengthen steroid production. (3)


(1) Source 'Textbook of Small Animal Medicine' ,Edited by John Dunn MA, MvetSc, BVM&S, DSAM, DipECVIM, MRCVS, Published by Saunders, 1999)
(2) Source 'Textbook of Small Animal Medicine' ,Edited by John Dunn MA, MvetSc, BVM&S, DSAM, DipECVIM, MRCVS, Published by Saunders, 1999)
(3) (Source Natural Healthcare for pets, by Richard Allport, Published by Element 2001)


Common pet health problems
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